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NO.316 04.03.2017

“How Civic Education Changed ‘Me’”

“Just as important as my civic educational activities was how I changed through that experience. The subject of our group study was animals, but it concurrently brought about significant changes in me.”

Above is an excerpt from a course review by Yewon Lee (Instrumental Music, ’16) after finishing the Humanitas civic education course “The World We Live in.” The goal of the course is to train “global practitioners” who are emphatically altruistic, practically charitable, and competently adept in connecting with others to positively impact the society they live in. Students are encouraged to choose their own subject matters and to organize field activities in their course of study. The most important pay out of the civic education course is the “evolution of self” through the reorientation of perspective, value system, and the actual field experience of practicing what they had learned. In each semester, roughly 2,500 Kyung Hee students in about 500 groups from both the Seoul and the Global Campuses venture out into the world to test their mettle.  

Diverse subjects covering many important aspects of society
Each student group is run autonomously and determines its own subject and methodology within a broad guideline overseen by a professor. Since this is a live exercise without a set manual, unforeseen factors in the field often affect unexpected changes in the group’s course of action. It is at the core of the study to continually assess their situation and cooperatively derive the best possible solution with the help and advice from their fellow students and assigned faculty members. In 2016, the subject matters for the civic education course included: student cafeteria on the Global Campus, welfare of animals detained at pet shops, exploring a non-capitalistic way of life, safe use of smartphones for middle-school kids, freedom of press in China, tourism in Korea, the Comfort Women, and others.


New calendar with QR code to link information on historical holidays
Students Minkyung Kim (Information Display, ’16), Haein Kim (Journalism & Communication, ’16), Junghyun Wi (Hospitality Management, ’16), Yunhee Lee (Sociology, ’16), and Dongkyu Im (Physics, ’16) grouped up to create a calendar called the “Time is Calendar.” Building upon an idea that knowing the historical background of each public holiday would help people to remember history, they selected thirty public and historic holidays and made QR codes linked to specific Facebook pages containing the background information of each holiday. For instance, a QR code on the calendar page for June would lead to the Facebook page for the June Democratic Movement of 1987. They then visited the “Hangil Regional Children’s Center” and distributed their calendars while teaching history to children in grade 1-3 using the calendar as a teaching tool.

“We have learned that the first step toward achieving civic spirit starts with knowing and remembering the past contributors to our history whose sacrifice had made it possible for us to enjoy the freedom and rights that we now take for granted. We intend to continue our work and maintain the Facebook page linked to our calendar.”

Strengthening the Animal Protection Act for animals being sold
Students Hyungjun Shim (Chemistry, ’15), Yewon Lee (Instrumental Music, ’16), Jookyung Lee (Public Administration, ’16), Chaeyoung Chung (English, ’16), and Yoomin Choi (Hospitality Management, ’16) took interest in companion animals being sold in pet shops and supermarkets. The group visited several supermarket locations, the Moran Market, and Choongmuro pet street, and investigated the conditions in which companion animals were being sold, including the levels of stress and sanitation. Based on their own investigation and the data furnished by Korean Animals Rights Advocates (KARA) on the condition of animal breeding facilities, the group reached a conclusion that the sale of companion animals inevitably leads to animal cruelty through the chain of sale from breeding facilities to the final retail location. The group first filed a civil complaint with the Metropolitan government of Seoul, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and headquarters of major supermarket chains demanding a strengthening of Animal Protection Act and a civic awareness campaign to improve the treatment of animals. They also created signs and posters informing the Kyung Hee community and the public of the poor condition of illegal breeding facilities and animal auction houses. The group argued that consistent civic complaint against practices of animal cruelty will eventually move the public opinion into practical changes.

Student Shim said, “I took up a new interest in social issues and learned that, however small it is, only in acting out an idea can have actual repercussions. Being out there in the field and working things out with my own hands was a tremendous moment of awakening, both intellectually and philosophically.”

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